Hello new friend…

March 2, 2011

 I’ve really kind of abandoned this blog since we won our case but now I may start it back up again. In case you’re curious, A.A. is approaching his 8th birthday next month and is fully enjoying second grade. He has made the all A honor roll all year long so far and is very happy at school. He has friends and is playing Little League baseball on a machine pitch team this year.  His hair is still worn in two braids every day at school and is quite long now.

 When I started all this, I was using myspace mostly as a way of spreading the word. Time has passed and myspace is clogged with videos and such that no-one watches so now I use facebook and twitter for my social networking needs. Today on facebook I got a new friends request from someone I seem to have some things in common with. Her 13 year old step-son may be about to face the same fight my son did. Here is a link to her blog. Please share and support.

Happy 2011!

http://native4christ.com/2011/03/02/keep-your-scissors-to-yourself/

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Its over! Again.

July 25, 2010

 I have not posted anything since we won our case in Federal court. What you may have missed is that the school district appealed and the case wound up in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and was heard in December of 2009. We’ve been waiting since then.

On July 9th 2010 I got the phone call we had been waiting for. The 5th circuit court of appeals upheld the federal court ruling. 

http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/fifth-circuit-upholds-religious-rights-american-indian-kindergartner

This case has already helped other children facing discrimination in heir schools and is sure to help many more. I had no idea it would last this long or be this difficult when I sent that first email to NISD’s administration in 2007. Hopefully this is the end for real this time.

A.A. has now finished the first grade and is heading into second when school starts again next month. He was on the A/B honor roll last year and there were no issues with his hair at school. He made lots of friends and is excited about being a second grader.

Its over!

January 22, 2009

I know its been a while since I’ve posted anything but its really finally here!

http://www. aclutx. org/article. php?aid=672

The next step.

October 2, 2008

http://www.aclutx.org/article.php?aid=628

Another article worth mentioning….

July 30, 2008

  A friend in Needville sent it to me. I found the “could possibly be a misquote” part to be ironically funny.  😉

http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096417812

http://www.indiancountry.com/
 
Lipan Apache family fights Texas school district’s hair length policy
by: Brian Daffron / Today correspondent
© Indian Country Today July 28, 2008. All Rights Reserved
 
ANADARKO, Okla. – Five-year-old Adriel Arocha, currently of Stafford, Texas, has gained a lot of worldwide attention recently.

When asked by a reporter about why he wears his hair long, the young boy in braids said, ”It tells me how long I’ve been here.”

Originally aired by KRPC-TV, the news segment has since made it to MSNBC’s Web site of most frequently viewed videos. However, the segment isn’t just about a young Indian boy’s hair. Instead, it is about his parents’ challenge to the Needville, Texas, school district’s hair length policy, a district that Adriel will most likely find himself in at the beginning of the school year, and whose hair length policy he would be violating as soon as he entered the door.

”We did this as trying to smooth the waters and offer the olive branch,” said Adriel’s father, Kenney Arocha, 33, in a phone interview with Indian Country Today. ”We notified them long before the beginning of the school year that we were coming and get an understanding of what we needed to do to have my son go to school there.”

Arocha, whose new home recently completed construction in Needville at press time, owns his own business and is of Lipan Apache descent. Although the Lipan Apache have strong historical ties to the southern Plains, the incorporated Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, based out of Corpus Christi, is not federally recognized.

Located outside of Houston, the Needville Independent School District has strict dress and hair codes regarding its students. In order to clear the way for his son, Arocha said that he went through the proper channels of the school district, which include first making a grievance with the principal, then the superintendent and, finally, a meeting with the school board.

On July 16, Arocha met with the school board and presented his case. According to both Arocha and a spokesperson for the school district, the school board ultimately made the decision to not make a decision=2 0because the Arocha family has not yet moved into the district to enroll Adriel as a student.

”They dodged the bullet on a technicality,” Arocha said. ”According to them, we still do not technically live in the city. Since we do not live in the city, my son is not able to register legally in their school district. Since he’s not registered in the school district, he is not a student. Since he is not a student, they have not denied anyone their rights. They say it’s a non-issue.”

In the case that Adriel is enrolled as a student in the Needville District, Arocha said that he would then be required to go through the same three stages of grievances and then be required to show proof of the family’s sincerely held religious beliefs.

”The district has a dress code and a hair code for students,” said Rhonda Crass, attorney for the school district. ”In the event a student asks for an exception, under state or federal law, then at that point the school would evaluate it. At current, the student is welcome to move into the community. The student is welcome to enroll in the community. If the student moves into the community, the student will be required to follow the dress code unless they request an exception and are granted one.”

Crass said that part of this process of giving evidence of deeply held religious convictions would be to express these beliefs in writing in their presentation to the school board. However, Arocha said that’s been a part o f some of the problems he’s received from the superintendent, Curtis Rhodes, and from the school board meeting – having to prove beliefs that aren’t codified. In the same MSNBC.com news clip that featured Adriel, Rhodes is quoted on camera as saying that the Arocha family would have to ”prove that there’s a recognized religion.”

”I think that’s really kind of demeaning, honestly, to ask somebody how they recognize their religion,” Arocha said. ”I don’t even understand how to approach that statement. I’ve told him on several occasions in a closed session and last night at the board meeting with several members of the community there watching. We don’t have a lot of written tradition. We do that for a reason. All of our history is passed down orally. There is no way that I could open a book and show him and cite chapter and verse as to how we live our lives.”

When asked about the statement made by Rhodes, Crass said that it ”could possibly be a misquote.” She then immediately emphasized federal and state laws regarding exemptions for religious beliefs.

”If a student can demonstrate a sincerely held religious belief according to state or federal law,” she said, ”then they’ll certainly be granted an exception if they follow the guidelines set out by the state and federal law and the courts in establishing a sincerely held religious belief.”

Soon, Arocha will be enrolling his son in Needville’s Elementary School, with the possibility of having to go through the three-part grievance process again almost a certainty. For Arocha, the fight to keep his son’s hair long and get an education is a multifaceted issue that extends not only on a religious basis but a constitutional one as well.

”This is important not only on a spiritual, cultural and religious level,” Arocha said. ”They’re asking us to suspend the Constitution. The [American Indian Religious Freedom Act] wasn’t passed until 1978. I was 3 years old when we were finally allowed to believe openly the way we do and practice how we see fit. Here we are, 30 years later, and they’re asking me to give that back, and I cannot do that.”

 
Please visit the Indian Country Today website for more articles related to this topic.

Letters and updating…

July 28, 2008

 We’ve been busy! Between packing, moving stuff and getting ready for a business trip, I’ve been a bit too busy to blog lately. Things are still moving slowly forward. All the utilities except for the phone line and internet are hooked up and the change of address forms have been sent in. We spent the night in our new home on Wednesday night so we could be there all day Thursday for various service companies to come out a do their things. It was neat waking up and seeing our horses outside. Adriel likes his new room and is trying to decide how he wants to paint it.

 I can’t really post much about the legal steps that are going on right now but don’t worry, things are being taken care of. I’m still hopeful that Adriel will be allowed to go to school without having to deal with a lawsuit but who knows how that will go. I guess we’ll find out on August 25th when school starts.

 Anyway, I thought I would share a few of the letters I have received concerning this problem. Most were forwarded to me as well as the school board but the first one was sent only to me. That one probably means the most to me. Its a story I have heard repeated many times now with little variation. I’m leaving out the names for the writers’ privacy.

My name is ******. I am a Choctaw and I grew up in Small town Tennessee. I read your post in the group and I can relate. I just thought I would write you in private. I’m not too big on posting stuff in the group lol.
anyways when I was younger I wasn’t allowed to keep my hair long. my mother and father kind of raised me to know of my culture but they weren’t raising me to Be NDN (it’s hard to explain maybe you get it). anyways it was a time in my life (I was 14 I think) and I was experiencing the feeling of being lost or needing to know who I was, who I was becoming. So I began embracing my identity and learning all I can about it. Here comes the school with their westernized thoughts. as I was coming into High School, they told me I couldn’t keep my hair long, were my beaded necklace, or my shell earrings. they told me it was a violation of the dress code. I read the school manual, found nothing I was doing wrong. I told my mom we should fight it. She didn’t wanna fight it. Next thing you know I was at the barbers. It didn’t stop there. The school wouldn’t let me express myself concerning: history, the world around us, the status of the country, the mindset of the local community, etc. So suppressing my identity and expression of my mind led to me dropping out. I had to get my GED, I moved out of the town, then to Lawrence Kansas to go to College (at Haskell) to be around more of my NDN people. I mean yeah I’m fine now but I can’t help but feel they (small town TN school board) won. It was a rough. Like I said i’m fine now, but the days of my youth weren’t pleasent, I just felt like I was held down from rising to be me. So I just want you to know that, even though I don’t know you, I support your cause, and I pray for you and your family. and that I will notify a few friends and relatives of mine in Texas of your dillema. So don’t give up. You don’t have to write back or anything, I’m just writing to show support.
Peace
******

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

To Whom It May Concern:

I have recently been made aware of an incident concerning a young American Indian boy, Adriel.

In keeping with his father’s American Indian heritage, Adriel has long, braided hair. His parents keep it clean and neatly braided. However, it has been made clear to his parents that Adriel must cut his traditional braids in order to attend kindergarten at Needsville Elementary School.

Despite the fact that I reside in San Francisco, California, I would like to voice my complaints about this. I consider this case to be a gross abuse of civil rights and an abuse of American citizens’ religious freedom. Would you force an Orthodox Jewish boy to remove his yarmulke and remove the tradition sideburns? Would you demand that a Sikh boy remove his turban, or a Muslim girl her headscarf? In your act of insisting that Adriel must cut his braids, you are violating a very basic Constitutional right: the right to religious freedom.

While you claim that “the policy has always been this way and will not change for one student”, consider this: Adriel is certainly not the first American Indian child to enroll in your school, and will not be the last. As suburbia crawls nearer to your community, you will notice an influx of students whose religious beliefs do not correspond with the current dress code. Demanding that Adriel’s family provide “”proof of sincere religious belief” is an ignorant request, as it is a widely known fact that American Indians did not leave behind much in the way of written history.

Consider the lawsuit that will definitely ensue if you continue to attempt to force an outdated dress code on a child who is clearly following the traditions of his heritage. Consider also the amount of people who are involved in organizations that are dedicated solely to the upholding of American Indian rights.

The world around your school system is changing, and it is necessary to make adjustments to accommodate that change.

Sincerely,

****** ********

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hello. I’m a resident of the area, I pay NISD taxes, & I’ve been following the issue concerning one young gentleman’s hair length. I’ve shared the story with several friends, family & acquaintences. I feel it would be beneficial to the community that I share with you the responses I’ve gotten.

Being elected officials, the way you (and Mr Rhodes) approach such topics & the decisions you make reflect on the entire area as a whole. This issue has gained widespread attention and many people are watching.

In my sharing the links to the television reports & printed media (houstonpress & fortbendnow), these have been the replies. I posted the links & asked peoples’ opinions on them. I posted these to friends, family, and several online forums for teachers & parents.

I have highlighted in red the comments that really stand out as showing the negative impression this decision & the comments made by Mr. Rhoads have made not only on the school, but on this entire community:

“I saw right off the bat he looks Indian. my boy is Cherokee and I do cut his hair but he has sensory issues and I cant brush or comb it. there is no Indian “bible” just traditions passed down. Indians were beaten and killed for using their native tongue think they would suffer a punishment of writing their way of life down? think any of the writings remain? maybe I’m used to it being the year 2008 and people being a bit more open minded. I hope they win.”
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“This is terrible! I will pass this on. Stuff like this really ticks me off. What does that child’s hair hurt? Especially when that hair style is part of his heritage as a Native American. If they force that boy to cut his hair then every little girl in that school should have to cut theirs too….really no one should have to, but you know what I mean. So unfair and just un-necessary.”
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“It is unfortunate that things like this happen but this is the only way that change will ever come about. The one suffering from this is the child. I think the school should have some leeway with this rule because it is not enforced for both genders. This boy is not having long hair to show some type of statement he has long hair because it’s a culture and religious related. Kudos for the mom for fighting this. The big point to make here is are there any middle eastern children in the school district? If so do they make those children take off their face coverings (yes I know that they only use those coverings at a certain age but that’s not the point). That is part of their culture and religion and is more than likely not addressed in the dress code. I agree that this is outrageous.”
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“Wow. If you ask me they have a pretty winnable lawsuit on their hands.”
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“that is so wrong of the school. what happened to we do not turn anyone down because of race, color or religion? I have Cherokee in my blood, and that is so wrong of the school to do that. I hope they win the lawsuit.”
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“I think that is terrible that child should be able to go to school with his hair long and braided. I hope they win their appeal I will pass this on”
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“I think the school’s behavior is atrocious and I think that this family has a very winnable, very worthwhile lawsuit ahead of them.”
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“I think that this is so wrong, this poor boy! He should be able to get an education, no matter how long his hair is. they have no right to tell him to cut it, especially if it has to do with his heritage! I feel like writing the school!”
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“This just makes me mad! I am part Shawnee Indian and no one better ever ask me to cut my hair I will tell them where to shove it! This is part of his heritage and what they believe in.”
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“That sucks. I really think that it is an outdated rule due to the fact that the girls do not have the same policy. I am sure if she fought hard enough that she may get it changed. Stand up for her rights as a FREE AMERICAN and NOT cut her son’s hair.”
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“Not a reason for not let him to attend school.”
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“I live down the road from Needville, and I must say-not surprised. As an Anthropology major, this smacks of early 1900 indoctrination-the need to assimilate the heathen Native American to our more “civilized” way of life. Who cares about respecting everyone’s religious ideas and freedoms? As far as I’m concerned, this district does not want to be anything other than the rural town that it is. With more and more people of differing backgrounds heading out that way, this might be the first challenge they have received to their dress code, but it won’t be the last. I hope this Mom continues to push this issue. ”
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“I remember when I was a kid there was a school that forbid a child to go there because they had dyed their hair purple. The school lost the law suit! I believe that these people will win and not only that but shed a big fat spot light on this ghastly school district! Shaving a child’s head without permission is assault! I know that sounds a bit drastic but under the guidelines of what the nursing profession considers assault, that classifies!!! I will be praying for this family to win and stick it to this school. Have they been sued before this?”
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” This Rhoads is a pompous ass. I hope they take him down. ”
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“I was actually wondering if racism is an issue in this town. I feel so bad for this family.”
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“I agree!!! Is this a public school?? Hasn’t this jerk ever heard of the right to a free and public education for all students without discrimination!?!? Quoting **************: This Rhoads is a pompous ass. I hope they take him down.”
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“I personally can’t stand long hair on boys, but in this case regardless of the length they are attacking a child for his culture and for goodness sake’s he’s only in kindergarten. That Rhodes guy clearly sounds like an ass and I do too wonder if maybe he’s a lil prejudice. I hope the Native Americans win this case and that Rhodes has to eat his words”
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“I am confused… I would certainly complain to the school about that jeez how in the heck does hair length affect education I thought we knew better by now. My Fil got thrown out of school in the early 70’s for having a beard he fought that hard but being an orphan he had no one to help him stand up against it then a year later another child had the same issue and his parents fought and won the right for there child to have facial hair as the school (with the help of the parents lawyer) finally realized that facial hair has no bearing on anyone’s education what so ever”
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Absolutely this is discrimination!!! I live in San Antonio now but came from a very small Texas town like that. To me this is not a matter of trying to have long hair because its cool. This is a matter of respecting his heritage. I was raised in Arizona surrounded by reservations, my 2 best friends were Navajo and Zuni. This young boys hair would always be kept in a neat braid and would most likely be kept nicer than other boys cause its a pride matter. ”
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“I agree. That’s like asking a Sikh student to remove his turban because they think it’s a hat. It’s ridiculous.”
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“I think schools have pushed it way to far. does it really interfere with education? no? then back off. public schools need to accept the public! and if girls don’t have to cut their hair, boys had better not be made to!”————————————————————————————————————————————————————
“I agree. It is no longer culturally unacceptable for boys to have long hair. Like she said…if girls can have long hair then so can boys.”
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“I think there are better things the school can be focused on. This is a waste of time and money.”
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“Absolutely, positively ridiculous. Who cares if it’s cultural, religious, or if he just FEELS like having long hair? A boy having long hair doesn’t interfere with the school whatsoever. It changes absolutely nothing. What a waste of time, effort, and news.”
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“it’s GENDER discrimination. if girls can have their hair long, they have no right to restrict a boy from doing the same.”
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“Well, I am of two thoughts on this.

A school should be able to make whatever dress code rules they want (uniforms, skirt length, etc.). However, I am not inclined to support that right in regards to haircuts, UNLESS it is a private school or a school of choice where the parents are choosing to enroll the student, thereby choosing to abide by its rules.

When we are talking about the default school system–public/government schools are a default system because if the parents for whatever reason do not exercise their right to choose a private school, tutor, or homeschool, then they are obligated by compulsory laws to enroll the child in a public/government school–I think there should be accommodation of religious beliefs in regards to haircuts and dress as long as the exercise of that right does not violate decency or cause a health hazard.”
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“Quote: …I think there should be accommodation of religious beliefs in regards to haircuts and dress as long as the exercise of that right does not violate decency or cause a health hazard.
Especially since it’s apparently such a non-concern that they grant an exception for half the kids simply because they’re girls.

I’d say it’s religious and gender discrimination myself.”
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“If the hair is not cut because of religious reasons then I think there is a major law suit coming against this district. This sounds like a case the ACLU (not that I agree with them most of the time) would pick up and run with.”
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“What a bunch of BS! How is it a health and hygiene issue? Because he is a boy he can’t keep neat and clean? Baloney! Just another way for gov school to exercise control and flex their muscles.”
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“Long hair on a boy is not for me…FOR ME! I totally respect the religious/cultural reasons for not cutting their son’s hair. It looked neat and well braided in the video, and from what I saw, should not interfere with his day to day activities at the school~they showed him at home and he was managing horses for goodness sakes, and the hair did not seem to bother him one bit! If it is a religious/cultural issue, then by all means don’t cut the hair and fight the school!”
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“The school district is wrong, and I have no doubt they will loose. I was surprised there was a public school that dictated hair styles other than the generic “it must be neat and clean”. ”
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“So, is it ok for a public school to deny admittance to a female student who is veiled? Or forbid Christian students from taking off on Good Friday?
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When public schools begin to restrict the religious freedoms of it’s students, our society will forever be irreversibly doomed.”
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“I think the rule itself both reflects the attitudes of the people in the area and is the cause of perpetuating those attitudes as well.

There are quite a few religions that have rules about hair that do not conform to this school’s rule and just by having the rule they are teaching children that all people who have such beliefs are “outsiders.”

No doubt, we all live with rules, but what rule would make you fight against it because it would either infringe on your lifestyle too much or would make you break a covenant within your religious beliefs? What if the same school had a rule about headwear–I would imagine that they do–and did not allow an Mennonite girl to wear the traditional head covering, would everyone feel different about that? If that would be more worth fighting for, I would ask why. Because of the religion or because modesty is more acceptable or because it is a girl rather than a boy?”
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“It is a necessity, provided by the government, to educate the masses, and because of that, it also needs be a servant to the masses, but there also needs to be a balance so that the rules that serve the majority do not unfairly overrule the minorities. Here is only one Native American child in a school district just asking that he can attend school as he is, without having to cut his hair.

I just find it so ironic how “tolerance” is taught in government schools. What they really teach is we will be tolerant of you after you have conformed to what we can tolerate. In this case, we will tolerate you as a Native American, but you must conform so that you do not look like you are Native American, so that can tolerate you. Does that really work?”
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“No one wants tolerance…everyone wants conformity to their own belief system.”

“I completely disagree with what this school is doing.

The policy in general, is an attempt by the school to quash any individuality of the students. It’s not a health/hygiene issue, as long as the hair is kept clean & taken care of. It’s not a distraction to other children, preventing them from getting an education. I mean, seriously, when I was in school, people’s hair was the least distracting thing (even 4in neon green, spiked mohawks). This policy is simply there to make all students look as much alike as possible.

In regards to this specific child, the school is violating his 1st amendment rights. The fact that the principal refuses to allow this child to enter school because his father cannot point to a passage in a Holy Book to prove that this is in fact part of their belief system, is ridiculous. American Indian heritage, culture, and religions are passed down orally from generation to generation. To my knowledge, there has NEVER been a Holy Book for any American Indian religion. The fact that the school will only accept proof of that kind basically says that the school does not view this family’s religion as a legitimate one, simply because it does not have a Holy Book.

This story really angers me. A public school should not be able to have a dress code that strict, for one thing. Plus, there is no real reason for them to tell this family that their son cannot attend. They are crossing over boundaries that no public school should ever be allowed to cross. If it was a private school, that would be a different story. Public schools are required to accept all students within their district. They cannot be selective about their student body. That’s why it’s a PUBLIC school. I hope that the principal is fired for this discrimination.”
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“There would be no need for tolerance if people did not judge themselves superior to others different from themselves in the first place. I have noticed that even the people who pride themselves of being highly tolerant have expressed definite intolerance of people they judge to be intolerant.

The truth is we all want some measure of conformity because it makes us more comfortable. This is one of the reasons people of differing cultures and faiths naturally create subcommunities in cities. It is a natural desire for us to be with others similar to ourselves.

The point is that length of this child’s hair makes people uncomfortable, even fearful that if the rules are changed for this one thing then there will be no end to the changes in the rules and perhaps anarchy will rule, which is an extreme. The one absolute certainty in life is change and yet it is the one thing people fear the most. It simply is the fear of change that makes people want to keep this rule unchanged and without exceptions.”
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“if the school’s major reason for no long hair is that it could endanger someone, then they should either apply the rules to girls as well or find a compromise [e.g. long hair needs to be in a pony tail or braided back].

I don’t have a problem with a school creating and enforcing a dress code, but it should be equally enforced across the board. If the reason for the long hair needing to be cut is that it’s a possible hazard, then that would be true for girls as well.”
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“I understand the need for rules & limits. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have any. I do think, however, that many of them go beyond what they should be allowed to dictate. Yes, I think that kids should have to dress appropriately for school. Underwear should not be seen (on boys or girls), clothes endorsing drugs or alcohol should not be allowed, girls should wear skirts of a decent length & their shirts should cover their midriffs. However, if a child wants to dye their hair blue, and their parents agree, what right does the public school have to say they can’t? I can see how a girl dressed in a mini skirt & a shirt that’s barely more than a sports bra could be distracting, possibly to the point of affecting other students’ education (especially the boys who are too busy staring at her to pay attention to their math lesson). But, will someone having blue streaks in their hair, wearing a necklace, or having a nose ring really affect anyone’s education? I don’t think so. Many of the things that public schools are now enforcing as dress code policy should be up to the parents, not the school. Maybe if schools paid less attention to the way the students look and more attention to providing them with an actual education, we wouldn’t have so many high school graduates who are illiterate or below 5th grade level math skills.”
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“I feel wearing different attire is different than asking someone to cut their hair. Changing your clothes for school is different because when you get home you can wear what you want and go back to showing your own style. Having long hair which is a part of my heritage, it would completely change someone’s appearance permanently if they were asked to cut their braid off. I have many family photos of my grandparents/great grandparents having long braids (American Indian) and I don’t think they would have cut their hair because a school told them to.”
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“I love this quote:

“In my 20 years in education, I’ve never had a kindergartner refuse to follow the rules of the school district,” Rhodes says. “So this is uncharted territory for us, too.”

That is so laughable, I mean has this guy never met a kid before. Lets see, talking in class when the teacher is talking, hitting, spitting, chewing gum, throwing toys , ……………. …………. …………………. …………………………. …………. ………………….. ………………………. …this us simple a stupid statement.

More seriously however is the idea that this could just a easily be a Mennonite or Amish female who wanted to cover the hair and is told they cannot wear a hat, a Muslim who wants to wear a garment that does not meet school dress code, a student from an African culture that requires the head to be shaved, or some other thing that is a no-no according to many dress codes. We have to preserve religious expression where it is reasonable and these folks need an exemption.”
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“I found this statement by the superintendent very telling

Quote: “[The school board is] pretty solid, and they’re proud of the Needville heritage we have here,” Rhodes says. “There’s a lot of school districts that have lost their discipline and all their beliefs. Needville’s pretty tight about that, they’re pretty tight about the traditions they have.”

In other words, “we’re strictly Christian and we refuse to allow other beliefs and practices into our schools”. Trust me, I’m all about protecting the rights to practice my faith, but that can only happen if other faiths also have the right to practice theirs.

Aside from the fact that other court cases have already ruled that Native Americans have the right to keep their hair long despite school rules. What makes Needville think it’s so special that the law doesn’t apply to them?”

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“I almost spit out my food when I read they were considering putting him with his own teacher. How does that solve anything? AND that is totally contradicting. He would still be at the school with long hair…PLUS it would wasting a heck of a lot of tax dollars…all because the school is too stubborn about it.

It seems like the super just has a hard head and is now grasping at anything he can find.

I can honestly see both sides of this, but there is a point where it all must come to an end and the school needs to be more tolerant. You can clearly see the families values and religion are sincere.”
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“This whole thing is also very sexist. If a girl can have long hair and it’s not unsanitary, then a boy can too.”
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“”A school district is a reflection of the community. We’ve consistently been very conservatively dressed, very conservatively disciplined. It’s no secret what our policy is: You’ll cut your hair to the right point. You’ll tuck in your shirt. You’ll have a belt.”

What is the “right point” and how is that decided. This is such a controlling and sexist statement.

“”How can it be outdated? How many doctors, professionals, lawyers, look at your military branches, look at bankers, how many of them have long hair? How many have beards? How many have body piercings all over their face?””

Yeah and how many are Native American? The kid doesn’t have a beard and this isn’t about facial piercings. It is about hair being sacred to them. What is wrong with this child being taught and immersed in his heritage?

Too often people toss their heritage to the wayside because the system or government demands conformity. Does this family see Needville as hick and small minded? Who knows. I sure do. I grew up in a small town not far from here where conformity was shoved down your throat. Anything perceived as different or odd and you are the target.

I am proud of his parents for not backing down. I’d stand up for what I believe in as well. Good for them to take a stand! Will the system back down and let him in? Probably not. But I still applaud them for taking a stand.”
————————————————————————————————————————————————————
“How about this tid-bit:

” The district has an alternative disciplinary school, but Adriel is too young to be assigned to that.”

Wow, I didn’t know having long hair required an alternative disciplinary school.”.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Personally speaking, I find the conduct of the superintendent appalling & an embarrassment. I honestly feel that my tax dollars would be better spent building a new high school rather than denying a 5 yr old boy his Constitutional rights.

Sincerely,

***** **********

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

On the CNN website I came across a recent issue your school district is facing, specifically the issue arround Adriel Arocha and his hair length.

While I agree that rules ought to be followed, I firmly believe that some rules are unnecessary and create problems rather than prevent them. And one such rule is an inherently sexist rule about male hair length. How does a boy having long hair interfere or detract/distract from a proper education? Such a rule does not improve any aspect of education. Instead, it creates an issue where one need not exist.

Do the right thing: get rid of frivolous, divisive rules and let this child have an education.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

“If long hair is the worst of your problems as a school district, kudos to you! I’m eager to hear about all the other penny ante rules that you make up for your students next.

Gee, in the four years I taught in the Detroit public school system I had to deal with students fighting in class, bringing guns to class, getting killed and thrown in a dumpster, and being pregnant before they’d even learned how to solve for x. If only I’d thought to throw them out of school because I didn’t like the length of their hair I would have been much farther ahead.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Your discrimination of the Native American child is disgusting and beyond immoral.

I have taken the liberty of publishing your school’s contact information in as many places as I can on the Internet and have forwarded news items detailing your hateful and discriminatory practices to everyone on my mailing list, as well as sending multiple emails to the national and Texas chapters of the ACLU. I have also encouraged everyone that I can to do the same.

Only hypocrites would attempt to teach civics to children they wish to “assert authority” over (that is what your dress code states, correct?)

You should be ashamed of yourselves and your despicable behavior.

CNN

July 19, 2008

 

 

Kenney was on CNN today for a short live interview. He was nervous but I think he did pretty well. We were stuck in traffic and almost didn’t make it to the studio on time. The second he walked in they threw a microphone and earpiece onto him and started the interview. I guess that means our little problem is national news now.

 After some discussion, we’ve decided to limit how much more Adriel will appear in the news. The last few weeks have been very disruptive for him and we feel its time for him to get back to being a regular little boy. I assume that the news interest will die down for a bit while we get ready for the next step anyway. We picked up the keys to our new house today but there is still no power or water hooked up yet.

 We walked through the house today with our home salesman for an inspection. Its so much nicer than we expected and Adriel had a wonderful time deciding which bedroom to pick for his own. He chose one that had a better view of the horse pasture so he can keep an eye on Nipper (his pony) from his window.

 We’re going mailbox shopping in the morning and probably picking out paint and a new clothes dryer. Our old one is gas and the new house is all electric. I hope to do some grid-tied solar panels in the near future to help cut down on our electricity bills.  I guess those folks calling us “hippies” had no idea how right they are.

Just the facts ma’am…

July 18, 2008

Since no matter what we do or say, somehow the facts get scrambled I decided to point out a few things that have been said that are not true.

Kenney is not now nor has he ever been a Baptist. Nothing against Baptists but for some reason Mr. Rhodes stated that he was to the press and it keeps getting repeated. Once again, Kenney is not Baptist.

Kenney is Native American  and we do have DNA test results to back that up. No, he does not have any government issued cards saying he is Native. He prefers not to be registered since that is what is done to animals. The other surviving group of  minorities to be issued numbers don’t like to be asked about that either. Got it? Good.

Once more, repeat it with me now anyone can adopt any religion they want to without being born into it. Its called the land of the free for a fucking reason.

I am white, caucasion, anglo etc. Red hair and hazel eyes, its pretty easy to figure out what I am and what I am not. See previous factoid please.

We are raising our son as we see fit. We are teaching him our spirituality and beliefs.

 We will not can not just cut his hair.

We will not just move somewhere more tolerant.

We will not just go back where we came from.

We do not practice some made up religion.

We do not want to break rules just for the hell of it.

We are not just looking for attention. If all we wanted was some attention we would get it in a way that was much less stressful and time consuming.

If this wasn’t important to us, we wouldn’t be doing it.

People keep saying maybe we should have looked into the community we chose to move to a little more before we decided to move there.

Well, we did. There were no signs posted saying “Beware! Needville is at least fifty years behind the times when it comes to tolerance and equality! No instead I found out that crime is low and the schools have good ratings. Why wouldn’t we want to move there? Nobody ever said Needville will spiral into the sun if a little boy with long hair goes to school there! Nope, not a one. All we ever saw was a nice quiet little town where our son could be raised with plenty of space to roam under the Texas sky.

Now for a little story time.

Not too long ago, there was a man tying to push his broken down truck down Needville-Fairchild Road. People were passing him by and shouting at him and throwing things as people tend to do when someone else inconvienences them with their own bad luck. No one stopped to help him push that truck down that road on that hot country day.

 Then another man came along and saw the first man toiling away trying to get that truck to the service station. The second man stopped and got out of his own truck to help the first man push. The first man said, why don’t you push my truck with yours instead of getting all tired out? The second man said he would rather push with his hands so he didn’t mess up the first man’s truck. The first man said it was ok and the second man got back into his truch and pushed the broken truck down the road to the gas station where the problem could get fixed.

When they got to the gas station, the second man got out to check on the first man and say goodbye. The first man tried to give him a few dollars for his trouble but the second man refused saying “it was the right thing to do, that is how I was raised”.

The first man thanked him and said “that is a mighty Christian thing to son”. The second man kind of smiled and said, “no sir, it was the right thing to do. I haven’t stepped foot inside a Christian church in over 14 years. Those men who were passing you by and throwing trash and angry words at you were the Christians”.

The second man was Kenney.

 

Now there was a man at the board meeting talking about his pride in Needville and how much he respected the traditions there. He pretty much echoed the other citizen speakers at the meeting but he was louder and obnoxious about it. That “gentleman” just like the others didn’t even have the courtesy to offer a lady his seat. A lady who just finished her last cancer treatment and is only just now starting to re-grow her hair and regain her health. That nearly bald lady that had to stand with the rest of us throughout the meeting wasn’t sporting some new fashion trend, that lady was my mom.

There were some Native gentlemen at the meeting and some native gentleman of Needville that were not. I think you know who you are.

This is exactly what the citizens of Needville talk about when they are talking about not allowing my son into school with his braids. They love to talk about their pride and traditions and how well they raise their children. How well mannered their kids are and how repectable the people of Needville are.

Kenney and I know that those of you that do not want our son to go to school with his long hair don’t like us. Thats fine, we don’t expect everyone to like us and well, frankly we really don’t care. But know this, if Kenney were ever seated in a room and a lady had to stand, he would give his chair up in an instant no matter what his feeling were for that lady because that is the way he was raised. Those are his traditions and upbringing and I am proud of him.

 

 

Various articles and news clips.

July 18, 2008

I’ve been getting calls and emails from all over the US today from people who have seen our story on the news or in papers.  Who knew that two little braids would cause such a fuss? Here are the latest ones I could find. Many are the same story just on different channels. I tried to stick to just news programs and papers but there is at least one blog that I couldn’t pass up. 😉

Oh and if you saw the Chronicle article today (the paper not the website) then you probably saw the photo of Kenney being quieted by the police. You see, one of the proud and traditional Needville gentlemen wanted to know what Kenney’s “Indian Number” was. You know, cause all “real indians” have one. Just like all registered cattle have ear tags or brands and show doggies have registration papers. I don’t think their is any other group of people in the US required to get registered like an animal. Needless to say they had a bit of a heated discussion.

See you in the papers.

Channel 2 (with guest appearances by Needville residents opposed to our son’s rights)

http://www.click2houston.com/news/16908324/detail.html

The Houston Chronicle

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5892068.html

Dallas/Fort Worth Area NBC

http://www.nbc5i.com/education/16903126/detail.html?rss=dfw&psp=news

Repeat of Channel 2’s coverage but the comments gave me quite a giggle!

http://mcpierce.multiply.com/links/item/361/Long-Haired_Boy_Denied_Entry_Into_Kindergarten_-_Education_News_Story_-_KPRC_Houston

Channel 2 in Cahrleston South Carolina

http://www.wcbd.com/midatlantic/cbd/news.apx.-content-articles-CBD-2008-07-17-0005.html

Fort Bend Now follow up story

http://www.fortbendnow.com/pages/full_story?page_label=home&id=115098&article-Next-Step-May-Be-Court-For-Couple-Fighting-Needville-ISD-Over-Son-s-Hair%20=&widget=push&instance=home_news_bullets&open=&

KLBJ News Radion in Austin, Tx

http://www.590klbj.com/MorningShow/Story.aspx?ID=95584

MSNBC

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25717376/

Channel 3 in Chattanooga

http://www.wrcbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8685940

North Dakota

http://www.kfyrtv.com/News_Stories.asp?news=20411

Indianz.com

http://www.indianz.com/News/2008/009803.asp

Lubbock News Radio 1420

http://newsradio1420.com/newsradio/newsMaker.asp?storyID=14787

First Coast News

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/strange/news-article.aspx?storyid=113923&catid=82

KMOT North Dakota

http://www.kmot.com/News_Stories.asp?news=20411

DIGG.com

http://digg.com/people/Native_American_Family_Fights_Against_Hair_Length_Rules

KCBY Oregon

http://www.kcby.com/home/video/25561639.html

TexasISD.com (its way down there under the long listing of superintendent vacancies)

http://www.texasisd.com/

I don’t know who Ogre is but he (or she) is awesome.

http://www.ogresview.com/archives/880

Azteca America (I’m not sure where it is on the website but their news crew was very nice!)

http://aztecaamerica.terra.com/

Non-Issue

July 17, 2008

 As expected, our appeal was denied. The school board threw in a surprise though, it was denied on a technicality. Since we don’t live there oficially yet and Adriel is not a student yet, they didn’t have to do anything other than uphold Mr. Rhodes ruling. An interesting twist, I suppose.  All it means is once we have a utility bill in hand showing we reside in Needville, the whole process will start over.  Thats ok, practice makes perfect as they say.

 We got there just before the meeting started and the room was packed. Its funny, in a room full of people so eager to protect their proud traditions, you’d think at least one of the gentlemen in the audience would have the courtesy to give up their seat to my mother who is recovering from cancer. I guess chivalry really is dead, huh?

 A few citizens had signed up to address the board. The first one called didn’t want to go first so she passed on her turn. The ones that did speak all said the same thing. “…..I hope the board uphold’s the superintendent’s decision…..” I don’t think I have ever seen more imature behavior from an elderly person ever. There was one old woman in the audience rolling her eyes and making faces the whole time. Its pretty sad when my five year old son was able to behave himself better than someone that old.

 When the time came for us to speak, I started off and then Kenney spoke. I don’t really remember what we said, I only remember being angry and my voice shaking. We both recorded it and there were news cameras rolling so I suppose I’ll listen to it later. Right now I am tired and want to go to bed.

 After we spoke a new friend addressed the board. He is Cody Swimmer of the American Indian Movement, South Texas branch. He spoke eloquently and there were some teary eyes in the room. Some were in the audience and mine were wet too. I hate getting emotional but it is difficult not to during all of this. I like Cody a lot. I have only just met him and already I feel like he is family.

 While we have not yet settled on who will be representing us legally, a lawyer spoke for our cause as well. We only met about 45 minutes before the meeting but he signed up to address the board and was given time to speak. Mr. Hale of Hale & Associates spoke of the outdated hair length rule and religious aspects of hair. I’m sure the opposers did not really care what any of us had to say. Their minds have been made up and I don’t think any amount of logic will change that.

 Oh! I almost forgot, the Department of Justice sent the school board a letter. I don’t know what it said but I did get a phone call before the meeting letting me know it had been sent.

I met some new friends that live in Needville. A couple who has chosen to homeschool because due to their own disagreement with the school board came to the meeting to show some support. We have been chatting online for a while now but only just got to meet tonight. Our children will be great friends I think. The boys have long hair and so does the dad. Its nice to have friends in the community.

Anyway, here is a link to one of teh stories taht went on tonight:

http://khcw.trb.com/news/khcw-long-hair,0,5788583.htmlstory

I have not looked up the rest but I got business cards from channel 2, channel 39, the Houston Chronicle, teh Fort Bend Herald and the Houston Press. I’m sure if you check their repective websites you can get the stories.

For those wondering what the next step is; as soon as our utilities are hooked up at the new house we will move in. Adriel will be enrolled once we have proof of residence (ie. a utility bill). We will take hime to school and the whole process will start over again. Level 1, Level 2 and then Level 3 appeals, that is, unless they decide to just let him go to school on their own. Perhaps they” arrange for a bigger room next time. 😉